The protective function of galectin-9 in liver ischemia and reperfusion injury in mice

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Galectin-9 (Gal-9) has gained attention as a multifaceted player in adaptive and innate immunity. To elucidate the role of Gal-9, we used a mouse model of partial liver ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) with wild type (WT) and Gal-9 knockout (KO) mice as well as a recombinant galectin-9 (reGal-9) protein. We found that the expression of Gal-9 was enhanced endogenously in the liver especially by hepatocytes and Kupffer cells during warm IRI for a mouse liver, which causes massive destruction of liver tissue. Gal-9 was released into the extracellular space in the liver and the highest levels in the plasma at 1 hour after reperfusion. The present study elucidates a novel role of Gal-9 signaling in mouse liver IRI, by using Gal-9–deficient mice and a stable form of reGal-9 protein. In the circumstance of Gal-9 absence, liver damage due to ischemia/reperfusion (IR) exacerbated the severity as compared with WT. On the other hand, exogenously administered reGal-9 significantly ameliorated hepatocellular damage. It decreased the local infiltration of the inflammatory cells such as T cells, neutrophils, and macrophages, and it reduced the expression of proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines; then, it strongly suppressed the apoptosis of the liver cells. Interestingly, severe liver damage due to IR in Gal-9 KO mice was improved by the administration of reGal-9. In conclusion, Gal-9 engagement ameliorated local inflammation and liver damage induced by IR, and the present study suggests a significant role of Gal-9 in the maintenance of hepatic homeostasis. In conclusion, targeting Gal-9 represents a novel approach to protect from inflammation such as liver IRI. Exogenous Gal-9 treatment will be a new therapeutic strategy against innate immunity-dominated liver tissue damage. Liver Transpl 21:969-981, 2015. © 2015 AASLD.

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